Tag: Church Planting

Project Odessa Life | Monthly Ministry/Prayer Update | August 2012

Did you know?

Ukraine is considered to be 79.01% Christian by Operation World.

According to Wikipedia a survey from 2006 indicates:

Eastern Orthodox – 26.8%
Catholic – 5.9%
Protestants – 0.9%
Jewish – 0.1%
other – 3.8%
no affiliation/not aware – 62.5%

The Orthodox and the Catholics do not believe the Gospel means Jesus + nothing = everything. They add components to the Gospel which do not belong or they do not teach the Gospel clearly at all.

According to the Joshua Project,

1.1% of the population is unreached
20.5% is nominally reached
78.4% is established (established means it’s at least 2% evangelical)

Over 90% of those unreached people are Muslims.

Also, from Wikipedia,

“Today the largest Protestant groups in Ukraine include Baptists (All-Ukrainian Union of the Association of Evangelical Baptists), Pentecostals (All-Ukrainian Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith-Pentecostals) and Seventh-day Adventists (Ukrainian Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists). Of note is Hillsong Church in Kiev. One of the most prominent Protestants in modern Ukraine is the practicing baptist pastor Oleksandr Turchynov, former head of the SBU, Ukraine’s successor to the KGB, and a former acting Prime Minister. Despite the rapid growth, today Protestants in Ukraine remain a small minority in a largely Orthodox Christian country.”

How is it possible that 78.4% of Ukraine is established if less than 1% is considered Protestant?

Did you know?

We need help in Ukraine.

Most missionaries quit before one year on mission?

We are not quitting.

Ministry Highlights

The months of August and September have been extremely eventful for us, so eventful in fact, I am behind on this update over a week. We’ll show you some pictures for an overview. Also you can check out some blog work if you like:

A video of me sharing about my personal prayer life and reviewing Steven Furtick’s “Faith Confessions video.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PtTEdxdIYE?rel=0&w=640&h=480]

My good friend from South Africa, Gert Plotties van Rooyen’s, response was similar to mine:

“So I watched the video and it seems that he’s trying to mix self help ideas with a deeper understanding of what God says. I don’t like the idea that he has a ritual that he believes in before he preaches in the sense that he depends on having done that for God to work. I think he says frames it in the way that he’s preparing himself for the responsibility of speaking Gods word, but it seems like in effect he will just end up trusting in his ritual.

More than that his faith statement could be helpful in so far as reminding ourselves of objective truths secured by Gods saving grace remind us not to trust in ourselves or to depend on our own ability to hold on to God but rather to trust that He is gracious and sovereign and that he will keep us. But his statements seem to be attempting to create the reality which they claim in the name it and claim it tradition of our faith being the thing with secures Gods owing us all our desires. Which is nonsense.

In general I think it is good to pray and to use Gods word even when we struggle believe the things which it says. As we spend time in his word and the Spirit makes it alive in us and grows our understanding and faith that’s awesome. But to say things to activate our faith as if it is dependent entirely on our effort seems like a dangerous idea. My heart already wants to constantly find ways to not need the grace of God but to trust in my own efforts. I need to be reminded to look away from myself and my ability activate anything and to look to Jesus Christ and depend fully on Him because of the objective truth of His death and resurrection being sufficient, and only that being sufficient for me to be welcomed by God. The less it’s about me and my activation techniques the more my life is actually transformed to trust fully in God working in and through me despite my failings and inability so that I can only ascribe the glory to Him. “

A Blog about how important it is for the evangelicals to be united on mission despite denominational differences. Friends in the Foxhole.

A blog post listing the most memorable sermons I’ve heard from the last decade. Most Memorable Messages

Family English Camp!

Please pray for Alla and her little girl. They began coming to church after camp and are hoping they will stay faithfully in fellowship with us.

This is Kristina! A great girl witha really terrific attitude. Please pray for her and her family as they made a decision to follow Christ at camp but we haven’t seen them.

Please pray for Helen and her family. Helen is a super nice lady who was in my advanced Englsih learning class. She needs Jesus!

Pray for Dima, Tolik, Alina, Gera, Elusha, and Gleb.

Family English Camp! An awesome ministry opportunity.

More pictures from camp can be seen here.

You may want to consider being involved in one of these next summer!

Follow up and meetings with new friends after camp.

Mary and Olga are in the upper left. This is after church and Zhenya and I were helping them with some Bible questions. They are young believers, so please pray for them. In the upper middle is Kate. She gave her life to Jesus at camp and has been a faithful friend since. She came over for breakfast and we had Greek iced coffe and homemade Greek yogurt (the morning after the Greek style wedding we attended). We were going through the book of Matthew with her. Please keep her in your prayers as well. Upper right is Jullian sitting to the left. He is a very talented drawer who has had a very rough life. Please pray for his salvation! Zhenya in the middle has been meeting with me once or twice a week and we are helping to improve his English by reading theough Wayne Grudems “20 Basics Every Christian Should Know”. Lower left is Sasha. We are reading through the Gospel of John together. He is very busy with school now so pray we can make time to continue these meetings. On the lower right is Dima. We are reading through a book I have about Jewish culture and practice. He only reads the Torah so we decided this would be a good way for us to improve his English. We also love to play Chess when we meet!

Anton is a Bible College graduate who works in construction and has recently gone back to school. We have been meeting and reading a paragraph of Colossions at a time. After completing a paragraph, we examine the text together and ask 7 Questions:

What does this passage tell me about God?
What does this passage tell me about man? (or myself)
What from this passage really stands out?
What questions do I have about this passage?
What can I apply to my life from this passage?
How is this passage connected to Jesus?
How is this passage connected to the Gospel?
Afterwards, we play chess. :)

More English Clubs Of Course!

Greek Style Wedding of our friends who now live in Romania.

The wedding was ambushed by the rains gods! We were drenched and had to climb up a steep clay hill. It was a disaster! :)

Visit to Dnepropetrovsk for a Pastor’s Conference

Lera and I went to Dnepropetrovsk to a pastor’s conference we were invited to. We got to make some great new friends with Sovereign Grace guys from Dnepro and Germany, Christian book publishers Grace Publishing and In Lumine, and some really great Campus Crusaders.

The Ark (“Kovcheg”) Church released their second Sovereign Grace worship album in Russian!

At the tail end of the conference several pastors from around Ukraine sat for a few hours discussing how to advance the Gospel in Ukraine!

The trip was a tremendous blessing and we were extrememly blessed and encouraged by the people we met. Also, there were two American missionaries preaching in Russian which was a huge encouragement for me as they both learned without any formal classes.

Prayer Needs!

Please pray for the people you see in the pictures!

Please pray fopr a mighty work of God and spread of the Gospel in Odessa and Ukraine!

Ministry Projects you can pray for:

I wrote a tract about the differing theories on who Jesus is. It will be translated into Russian and published. We need a gifted illustrator for the artwork.

We are having personal meetings with heads of outreaches, organizations, and a couple politicians about the future plans for the Discipleship/Recreation Center “Opus Dei”!

Tuesday Night Bible Study! We are almost done going through the Redemption Book on Tuesday nights. We are planning lessons through this book to begin visiting different rehab centers once a week and taking through a ten week counseling program. We are still praying for funding for the translation of the book into Russian and have some possibilities pending.

Pray for our homeless friends Alla and Natasha. Lera met them yesterday while I was with the guys. It was our first contact with them since camp and they are not doing well.

Pray for my learning Russian and the next season coming after our internship. We may begin meeting next spring with a core church plant team and praying together.

Thank you so much!

Giving!

To share in the reward of this work of God with us, follow this link!

One beautiful woman!

Friends in the Foxhole

There is a striking contrast between those living a peaceful, routine, Disneylandish sort of life at home and those who must face tragic realities of war or oppression as a normal part of life. There are many accurate parralels which can be made between war and our spiritual lives as Christians, as the Church. The Christian life will not survive lived as passive business, nor is it always fun, nor should it be reduced to a pursuit of all American good times. Often we live our lives completely oblivious to the warlike spiritual realities all around us. The Christian life cannot be passive, nor can we afford to live on cruise mode. Those of us who wish to end all struggle as God’s blessings effortlessly overflow into our lives, as we relax and enjoy the ride, will find that this only sinks us deeper and deeper into spiritual stagnation and defeat. In the Christian life, if we are not moving forward, if we are not fighting the war, we will find very quickly that we will be forced to pick up our gear and charge into battle. The forces of our sinful nature, the world, and the devil and his legion are forceful and strong. The battle has been won in Christ…which means we must fight to enter into His rest (i.e. the Gospel)!

All of us, as Christians, are soldiers. Some have different positions and differing assignments. If we could cross this analogy over into the mission field, I’d like us to consider a couple things. Missionaries abroad could be considered, if you will, to be on the front lines of the war. Meanwhile, many are stationed back home at headquarters, and some of those, not all mind you, have dodged the draft. Many are back home learning Greek, examining in depth studies on apologetics and theology. Others are raising families or building businesses. All of these things are good, to note, given the right context. People who are deciding on a church to attend may consider things like the children’s program, the preacher’s personality or the music style, others are more concerned with the mission statement, how missional minded the church is, or the structure of church government, or any combination of these sorts of things. The reasons we have different types of churches which, all things considered, have the same Gospel, are endless. I am not saying these things aren’t important or that people shouldn’t study Greek. I will say, that some people are using studying as a backdoor out the house of serving. And, “what”, you ask, “is my point?”

What is the ultimate overarching divine assignment of the Church? It is that God would be glorified as we enjoy Him! Then, that the world might see Him as we have, and glorify Him. So, as the Church, our ultimate overarching objective is that all the world would worship God, which has been Sovereignly designed to be their perfect and greatest best. Our war mission is this, nothing less, and each of our individual commands is unique. Some of us are called to be going to the front lines, some communicating with the front lines and reporting to headquarters, some are calling for recruits, some send resources and others cry out to God. The goers cannot go without the strategic support of those back home. Why do I say strategic?

God has been strategically working since before time began. He created a world where He could be most glorified in His work of redemption. Some believe He created the perfect world. He was strategic when and how He sent His Son, and strategic in how He prepared for His arrival through the ages before. He was strategic in how the Gospel spread through persecution and the Roman trade routes, the Koine Greek lingua franca, and the Jewish merchants. He was strategic in choosing Paul as an Apostle and He is strategic in His plans for you and I. All He does is with intention and strategy originating in a mind full of schemes of infinite wisdom. As a logical and ordered being His war strategies are numerous and intertwined, and we know, according to His word, the gates of Hell shall not prevail against them.

As full time (most often overtime :)) missionaries in Ukraine, my wife and I, and others we work with, have a team of financial and prayer soldiers who consist of baptists, presbyterians, charismatics, Calvary Chapelers, Sovereign Gracers, non-denominationalists, inter-denominationalists, etc., etc. and differing shades within these Evangelical camps. When you are on the front lines of war, the denominational lines begin to blur. I am not saying they aren’t important, or that I don’t understand the sense behind some of them. What I am saying is that we are at war and we have victory in the Gospel! In Ukraine, in the foxhole so to speak, we are planning and preparing to, by God’s grace, plant a church in the future and are gearing up and training now. God is assembling a special forces unit to plant a new church in Odessa. It is very important for those on this team to have like-mindedness in our beliefs, especially in our understanding of the Gospel. However, in the foxhole, a place where resources and mega churches and Christian sub-cultures are few, we are thankful for the people God brings to us. As long as we have the same Gospel and that is thoroughly understood and we agree on the large majority of the implications of that Gospel, then we can work together. When you meet a friend in the foxhole with bullets wizzing above you, things which were heavy concerns back home begin to seem more trivial in light of present threats of destruction.

When I was in the U.S. recruiting a financial team, many churches allowed me to come speak although I wasn’t apart of their “denomination”. Others did not. Many will only support missionaries from their congregation or denomination. I understand that and I understand why. But, it seems the emphasis has been placed on peripheral doctrines which are not aiding our, the Churches, war strategy. I do not mean that because some doctrines are considered “non-essentials” that they are unimportant, the question is, how important should they be in light of the war we are in? So, we have to strategically decide how we can pool our resources to be more effective war strategists, and I am not talking mere finances. When we plant a church we will have a team which is in agreement on the key issues. Don’t get me wrong, the vision, eschatology, soteriology, ecclesiology, liturgy, homoletic structure, and the mission strategy are all very important. But there comes a time when we must ask if it’s more important I have all these things 110% understood, or that I’m giving my time to people and discipleship? Strategically, when should I stop hiding in a closet learning and blogging, and begin serving and going? Our leadership team will be in agreement on our essential beliefs and particular “non-essentials”, which may be considered non-essential for church membership, but not for leadership, and these things are to be determined. But, don’t you think it’s great that we can go plant a church without a denominational stamp and understand the Gospel, and the breadth and power and scope of it, and harp on it ’til we die, and have that church thrive and work? Striving for unity around the Gospel to have as many friends as possible with us, in the foxhole.

For those of you who are curious, I would gladly disclose my views on any or each of these doctrinal topics, in detail, some of them being tentative. I will also say on any of them I could be wrong. Whichever camp on each of these issues you would find me in, by default, you would find there are people fighting in the foxhole with me, who I disagree with. This does not mean however that we are not wearing the same uniform and firing at the same enemy. So, wherever I fall, I cannot please everyone. Which as much as I want to be in harmony with all my fellow soldiers, my priority is to be faithful to God, to pursue truth in a passionate and worshipful manner as I believe He commands us to do, and to divide His Word, without dividing the body. This will mean there are things we disagree on, but it does not mean we can’t love each other. Please, stop backbiting your brothers and sisters and strategically deploy yourselves into battle, together united around the Gospel as much as possible. I don’t want to have a church which carries a label, and along with that many misunderstandings from those who have been trained by a biased mindset or culture. I want to center around the Gospel and the person of Jesus, love people and teach the Scriptures as they word it and let the truth be it’s own defense. Disclosing theological buzz words and controversies creates an atmosphere where many opportunites to love and disciple people can be lost. So, our war strategy is to work hard, to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” of our theology, so much so that we know which hills are worth dying on, and in such a way that we don’t impend advancing into enemy territory. Love never fails! The aim of deepening our theology is to help ourselves and others find an increasingly profounder doxology!

For so long I strongly desired and worked tirelessly to get more Bible training. I believe preaching is the greatest privilege a man could have and an enormous responsibility…to give an account for overseeing men’s souls is a frightening thought! So, with much care and humility, a man called should be given to diligence in preparation. I desired to learn the biblical languages and read 100’s of books before even attempting to open my mouth.

Then, I came to Ukraine. I came to where bombs were being dropped and shrapnel was flying and saw the immense need for the Gospel. Suddenly, it seemed far less important whether or not I could read the Greek New Testament or quote all the church fathers (of course for some of us this is our calling and we need you guys and thank you so much for defending the Gospel, and for all your hard work!). Now, what mattered was practical hands on picking up an AK-47 and pulling a wounded soldier out of harm’s way. And what mattered wasn’t that I was an expert, but that I knew the Gospel, and understood the Scripture enough to teach it in a meaningful way. There is a thin line where we must decide when learning should become going. For each of us we must decide this time strategically. For me, it seems God has called me to begin full time service, however hard or uncomfortable that is, and set aside my theological, what could be proud, aspirations. And, as we fight this battle, the education continues, but the strategic emphasis is practical ministry where theology is learned and applied in the context of doing.

When I say we must strategize, I do not mean at all to be hardened in any way to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides our planning through biblical principles. All our plans must be subjected to being given to God’s glory and the worship of Him by all nations! All our plans must include, biblically, and therefore being led by the Holy Spirit, death to selfish ambition, redeeming the time, etc. However, there are many ways where we are falling short.

When at war, we must be conservative on how we use our resources and winning the war becomes a top priority where serious sacrifices are made, sometimes our very lives. If we are at war, and if winning a war requires strategy, which involves stewardship towards effectiveness, then we must look at how to win the war. The war is over when all the nations are worshiping Christ! This is our aim. It is not that injustices would be corrected, or that the starving would be fed, and people would have clean water. If people are worshiping Jesus this will happen, and doing these things can be a strategic means to that goal. However, we cannot leave these acts void of the Gospel or our strategy is weakened. We must be strategic in all of life’s decisions. I am pleading for all of you to spend a day, a week, a year, to sit down and look over everything prayerfully. To seriously consider these things, we probably just need to put on the breaks and pull over.

Countries at war strategize to win and do what it takes to execute their strategies. If, to win the war, it is for every unreached people group on earth to worhip Christ, for those in my neighborhood to worship Christ, my family, the atheists and the religions who have distorted the Gospel, what is your role in the grand scheme of this? Are you a goer or a sender? How does your life plans, big and small, support this single assignment to win the war whether you are a baker or a doctor? How have you rearranged your time and finances to be as effective as possible toward this aim?

How has your life been strategically arranged to help us win the war together? Are there friends who belong in your foxhole but you’ve asked to leave?

Take some extended time to pray about these questions. How have you been strategic and Spirit led:
With your primary career choice or education towards this single aim?
With God’s finances He’s entrusted to your stewardship?
With your weekly schedule, priorities, and time?
With spiritual disciplines and prayer?
In planning practical service and building relationships with others?

In encouraging others to be strategic?
In where you send missionaries?
In where you are planning to go as a missionary?
In your local missional involvement now?
In helping your church to think more globally? Or even locally for that matter?
In where missionaries are you are supporting, if you are supporting any, and in what they are doing?
What type of short term missions you support or are involved in?

Are you a goer or a sender? If you are a sender, what does that look like?

In light of the present war, which doctrines are essential for:

Salvation?
Discipleship?
Church membership?
Church leadership?
Partnering with or sending missionaries?
Working with missionaries?
Fighting in the foxhole?
Dividing over? :)

Is it more strategically beneficial for the Kingdom for you to enter the mission field on short term trips or for life?

Are you giving as much of your income and time to Kingdom building as is strategically wise and fruitful?

If you have decided to go into missions, what is your preparation plan?

Jonathan Edwards used to be strategic in planning his meals so he could be as effective as possible in life, which for him was always ministry. His time isolated with God was planned so that he could be more spiritually present to people when he was with them. There is a balance all of us must strategize. I would suggest for many of us, we have too much people time which isn’t fruitful at all. It would be greatly beneficial if the Church had a handbook which gave many examples of strategic outreaches, strategic schedules, strategic ways to use different careers, strategic places to send missionaries, strategic ways of cutting back on self indulging habits, strategic ways to be involved from home, or on the front lines, and strategic ways to save, invest, and give money towards the war efforts depending on various incomes, etc. I would love to write this book. Strategically however, I’ve currently decided to write a blog, pray for all the readers, and get back down in the foxhole with my friends.

If you can agree with this GOSPEL CENTERED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT why not jump in the foxhole with us? To help us strategize towards the worship of God in Ukraine, click to JOIN OUR TEAM.

PROJECT ODESSA LIFE | MISSIONS VIDEO

MISSIONS IN THE CONCRETE JUNGLE | UKRAINE | PROJECT ODESSA LIFE from DOLPHINmedia on Vimeo.

Financing Update

Just a hello and an encouragement to our financial team furthering God’s work in Odessa through us.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK5LedXdJAQ&w=640&h=480]

Note: James Freeman was a Unitarian.  Beware!  :)

Valeriia's Update ~ October 2011

International Missionary Training Center Students 2011

Hello my friends!
Finally my dream is fulfilled and I am in the beginning of my special ministry.
For years I had the desire to serve God every day of my life so I prayed to God so He would prepare me for full time ministry which means to leave my job to leave my comfort zone and really to dedicate myself into fulfilling His Great plan for all people. And He gave me even more. Not only opportunity to study in International Missionary Training Center, but opportunity to study there with my husband Jacoby.

September 6th Jacoby and I became the students of the Missionary Training Center. It is so exciting for us to learn more about God, about people in need of His word, and about God’s will for our life. And it is our third weeks of studying but more and more God shows me how many people need Him, how many people need to hear the Gospel and need hope in their life. He gave us the Great Commission and we want Him to use us in the way He thinks is right.

Girls' ministry

So now, I will talk about our plans after finishing the theoretical part at the Training Center and serving practically in an internship. We have been called by God to be missionaries in Odessa. We are going to serve with Living Hope Church during our internship helping in the church. We also have plan for longer term. My husband and I have a big desire to plant a church in Odessa. People here are in very big need of God’s word.

Teaching kids at church from the HIV Center

Thanks so much to everyone who prays for this ministry and for the nations!

Missions trip to India